The Electoral System
Suffrage was free, equal, secret, and obligatory for all those between the ages of eighteen and seventy. The right to participate in politics could only be taken away when one was sentenced to prison or given a sentence that stripped a person of his or her political rights. No political party was given preference by the government, and free access to the governmentowned mass media was given in proportion to the percentage of that party's results in the previous election. The National Elections Board, which was autonomous, was responsible for electoral processes at the national and local levels.
National elections for the presidency and the Congress were held every five years. If no one presidential candidate received an absolute majority, the first- and second-place candidates were in a runoff election. The president could not be reelected for a consecutive term, but deputies and senators could be.
Direct municipal elections were held every three years. Regional governments were elected every five years. Elections of regional governments were held in conjunction with either the December 1989 municipal or April 1990 national elections.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the electoral process came under substantial threat from the SL, which made the sabotaging of elections an explicit goal. Despite terrorist threats in the 1990 presidential elections, voter turnout was higher than in 1985, with the exception of some emergency zones in the southern Sierra, where the abstention rate was as high as 40 percent. Null and blank voting was about 14.5 percent of the total in the first round in 1990 and 9.5 percent in the second.
The threat from the SL was such that in some remote rural towns, there were no local officials at all, because potential candidates were not willing to jeopardize their lives in order to run for office. Although there was no doubt that the SL failed to jeopardize the 1990 elections, it managed to pose a significant threat to the process, particularly in remote rural areas. Given the severity and brutality of the SL's threat, it was actually a credit to the Peruvian electoral process that elections were held regularly and with such high voter-turnout ratios, although fines for not voting were also a factor.
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